2017- 2018 BTO Highlights

Lynden High School –

Lisa Reynolds, Mentor Coordinator

While meeting and discussing future plans, a mentor suggested her first generation college student check on details with the school where she planned to attend this next fall.  In the process, they discovered that her financial aid information was rejected due to a numerical error. They were able to contact the college’s financial aid office, and move forward in solving the problem.  I’m so glad the mentor thought to suggest this and diverted some dire consequences for the student.  Mentors bridge transitions. 

A student sought some advice from a mentor: “How can I find a summer job?” This led to a time of working on a resume, looking at local businesses who hire teens, a visit to the High School and Beyond Center together, and educating the student about how to list references:  a rich hour of learning.  Mentors expand horizons. 

Two students made a special point of asking me to tell their mentors that they planned to perform in the school talent show.  Knowing parents could not—or would not--attend; they wanted their mentors in the audience for moral support and to celebrate with them.   I love knowing that many of our mentors make a special effort to be present for important eventsEveryone needs a cheerleader. 

In March I matched two students who self-referred that no one would expect to “need” mentors.  Both do well in school academically, have great attendance, no discipline issues, and are involved in multiple activities.  Both students shared that they frequently feel alone, lack confidence, and just need someone who cares and will listen.  Everyone needs connection.

Mentors have supported students in some very challenging circumstances throughout the year.  Many of these cannot be shared in detail due to confidentiality.  I have personally supported students and mentors in dealing with homelessness, physical abuse, suicidal ideation, complex legal difficulties, mental health issues, substance abuse/addiction, sexual identity concerns, and have connected students to needed resources.  The mentor is often the first person to hear about a problem when a student confides in them and shares deep personal concerns.  

Mentoring Highlights:

  • We completed our 5th full year of mentoring at LHS
  • 58 active matches at LHS
  • Maximum capacity per Mentor Coordinator is 50-60
  • 4 new students are eager to be matched in the Fall
  • Be the One is in the Yearbook for the first time ever!  We have our own page.
  • 4 mentor equipping Sessions during the year: huge attendance at our suicide training
  • Tamale sales provided for the After School Improv class-- 16 sessions well attended. Students expressed gratitude for their personal growth, increased confidence and a sense of belonging. Students and adults alike learned many valuable skills for relationships and work while perpetually having a smile pasted on their faces. Laughter is a very good teacher.
  • Saturday School: BTO volunteers provided a hot breakfast to students each month.  The meal was credited by staff as a major motivation for the attendance of between 40 and 60 student's each month.  Student's were very appreciative and often expressed the desire for school to be like that every day. 

Year End Cruise:

On June 1st we enjoyed our 3rd celebration cruise.  We maxed out the capacity of the ship and all who attended enjoyed a special time of bonding. Thanks for all those who came and a special thanks to the volunteers and donors who made this memorable evening possible. 

Lynden Middle School –

Brian Clemmer, Mentor Coordinator

One mentee was dealing with a lot of social and academic issues and the mentor was feeling uncertain how to help.  The mentor would listen every week and allow for the mentee to share without many answers to give.  Finally, the mentor asked how they could help and the mentee said, “it’s nice having someone to listen to me, that’s really all I need.” The number #1 desire of a mentee is to be listened to.

A new mentee and mentor were paired and they really connected well.  First, they found out they belonged to the same community of faith and had a lot of things in common.  Second, they bonded over some ethnic and cultural similarities.  On their second meeting the student had a birthday and the new mentor gave the mentee a birthday treat, which brightened  his day. Mentors brighten a student's life.

I spoke in some health classes and shared about the importance of the program.  Ten students responded with a desire to have a mentor.  The response has been overwhelming and we cannot find mentors fast enough.   Kids are HUNGRY for a caring adult to talk to.

The end of the school year brought a lot of tension and pressure for the students who were facing testing, the wrap up of their classes, tensions between students and thoughts of summer.  Mentors helped to relieve some of this pressure by being a listening ear.

Mentoring can sometimes be difficult, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that mentoring is essential for those who participate in it.  At the middle school there are some students that have been facing a variety of challenges as the school year wraps up.  Some are dealing with academics while others are struggling with behavior and making good choices. Yet others are facing the reality that they may be moving over the summer and not coming back to the Lynden school district and others may be worried about that transition from middle school to high school. No matter what struggles mentees are facing, mentors can be there for support.  They can encourage, guide or simply listen. All of this gives students added strength to face the challenges of today and hope for what the future holds. 

Mentoring Highlights:

  • We completed our 4th full year at LMS
  • 28 total matches made at the middle school. We have 4 pairs that have now been together for over a year.
  • 490 hours of one-to-one student mentoring this year (2017-2018) at the middle school.
  • In a few short months as full-time mentor coordinator Brian Clemmer was able to double the matches at LMS.
  • More students are awaiting a match next Fall 
  • Many of our students view their mentor as their best friend.  Many feel that their mentor is the most significant caring adult in their life. 
  • Ten 8th grade students will be moving to the high school with their mentor in the Fall. 
  • Art Club:  This has been a fantastic program that has seen great success and popularity.  The mentor volunteers have been an essential part of the club to assist with cleanup and to help with the art projects themselves.  Teacher Cindy Bell has done a great job with this.